SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
If I am on Social Security Disability, can I lose my disability benefits at some point ?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
There is no guarantee that you will always be entitled to Social Security disability benefits or SSI benefits. There are a couple of things that could cause your disability benefits to be suspended or even terminated. The two most common causes of Social Security disability termination are work activity and medical improvement. Social Security uses periodic continuing disability reviews (CDR) to evaluate both medical improvement and work activity.
Both Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI) are based upon the premise that your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do with the limitations of your disabling condition) is so restrictive that it prevents you from performing any kind of substantial work activity.
Naturally, Social Security must have a process to determine if you have had any medical improvement and if you remain unable to perform substantial gainful activity. This process is known as the continuing disability review or CDR.
Work activity and being taken off benefits
If you wish to get back to work, Social Security provides avenues that allow you to attempt work activity without losing your disability eligibility. For instance, you have nine trial work months in which Social Security allows you to earn any amount of money without it affecting your disability benefit eligibility.
The trick to the nine month trial work period is that the months do not have to be consecutive and can occur any time in a five year period. If you are performing substantial work activity in the tenth month, your disability benefits will be suspended and you begin an extended period of eligibility, or EPE.
The EPE begins with your tenth month of SGA-level earnings (see the SGA substantial gainful activity income limit) and lasts for a period of thirty-six months. During the thirty-six month period, you can start your disability benefits any time that you stop working or are no longer performing work activity at the SGA earnings level without any question.
However, if you work and have earnings up to the SGA income limit after the thirty-six month of the EPE, your disability benefits will be terminated. If you are able to perform substantial gainful work activity in spite of your disabling condition, why should you be receiving disability benefits?
Another cause of disability benefit termination is medical improvement and that is self-explanatory. Social Security gathers the medical records from medical sources you provide for your continuing disability review, if your medical records indicate that your disabling condition has improved to the point that you are no longer disabled under Social Security rules and guidelines, your disability benefits might be terminated due to medical improvement.
While there is a chance that your disability benefits may be terminated during your continuing disability review, it is unlikely. The vast majority of disability beneficiaries receive Social Security disability benefits until they convert to full retirement benefit, go back to work, or their death.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page